(NIV1984) 1 Kings 18:36-37 – “At the time of the sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.'”
So he did do it at the time of the sacrifice! 🙂
I like that Elijah says more than once that he wants the LORD to be revealed as God. He also wants them to know that he, Elijah, is, in fact, a prophet of the One True God. And God did, in fact, command him to do these things!
And that he asks twice for God to answer him and finally for the people to know this – not just that the LORD is God, but that He is the One turning their hearts back to Him.
Although there is a bit of selfishness and perhaps a point of pride in this – Elijah praying that they know that he is God’s servant – the main focus of this prayer seems to focus on God revealing Himself to the people and that the people would actually notice it. The main focus is on the people and on the people realizing Who God is. I can almost hear the desperation in his voice as he prays, knowing that God will do these things, believing and hoping that He will, but still desperate that He should do them and that the people would know that it is Him – not Elijah, not some other god, not anything else but the One True God.
Because, honestly, how many times do I receive gifts from God and chalk it up to coincidence or something I’ve done or how some other person likes me? “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” (NIV1984, James 1:16-18). And honestly, sometimes I know that it’s Him and give thanks to Him, but sometimes I focus on myself and my abilities or on someone else and their abilities. I need to be thanking God for the abilities He gave me, the abilities that He grew in me, the abilities that, apart from Him, I wouldn’t have. Not only that, I need to be thanking Him for the circumstances that arranged those abilities, whether they are in my life or in someone else’s life (just like I need to be thanking Him for the abilities that each person brings to the table). And a lot of times those abilities come from suffering, so I need to be thanking Him for that, too.
But, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I can’t thank Him if I don’t recognize Him first. And Elijah hear is praying that not only would God reveal Himself, as He does in all of our lives, but that the people would also recognize Him. Because, if the people do not recognize Him, if we do not recognize Him, how can we turn back to Him?